What’s the Difference Between a Clip and a Magazine?

Clip vs Mag (AR-15)What’s the difference between a “clip,” a “magazine,” or a “mag”? Not a day passes where we don’t hear a politician or reporter talking about the need to ban “high capacity clips.”  Occasionally, we will hear them mentioning “high capacity magazines” or “high capacity mags.”

Are these terms interchangeable or is the media using them incorrectly? Let’s answer the easy ones first.  “Mag” is simply an abbreviation for “magazine” – they mean the same thing.  Scroll down to read more about magaines.

We also hear the terms “high-capacity” and “hi-cap” – again, they mean the same thing.  They both refer the number of cartridges or rounds [must people refer them as “bullets”] held by the device.

Clip vs Mag (difference) So what’s the difference between a “clip” and a “magazine”?

Early guns fired were loaded one round at time.  An example would be the single shot muskets used during the revolutionary and civil wars.  This was very inefficient, so gun manufacturers set about creating a way to to get multiple shots from a single loading of  the firearm.   They came up with the concept of a “magazine.”   The term comes from the French word for storehouse.  A magazine “stores” ammunition until it is ready to be fired.  Cartridges are stored in the magazine and held in a position where they may be loaded into the chamber when they’re ready to be fired.

There are two types of magazines: “fixed magazines” and “detachable magazines.”  Fixed magazines are sometimes also referred to as “internal magazines” and “detachable magazines” are sometimes called “box magazines.”

Fixed Magazine in a Rifle

Fixed Magazine in a Rifle

Fixed magazines  are built into the firearm.  Think of them as an empty space built into a gun which is filled with ammunition.

Pic - detachable magazines

Detachable Magazines


Detachable magazines can be inserted into the firearm and then removed when it’s time to reload them.

Okay, so how is a “clip” different?  Magazines can be loaded by hand one bullet at a time or several rounds at a time by using a clip.  A clip is basically a strip of metal which holds rounds and is then used to load the rounds into a magazine.   Once the clip is loaded with rounds, it is placed at the edge of the magazine.  The rounds are pushed by hand off off the clip and into magazine.

Pic - Clip

Clip a/k/a Stripper Clip

The rounds are now in the magazine, but the clip is not. It can be reloaded and used again.

Here’s a nice video that demonstrates how clips and magazines work together.

About Bud

Yeehaw and Git-R-Done!! I'm just a simple good ole boy who "clings to his God and his guns." In other words, another dumb redneck gun owner you should ignore. That's what the gun confiscation crowd wants you to think, and it's how they falsely portray the majority of gun owners. Read some of the posts on this blog and draw your own conclusions. Then you might want to start questioning everything the government and media tell you about gun issues . . .

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